How Long Will I Need to Pay Child Support?

If you are divorced parent who has been ordered to make child support payments, you probably realize that your contributions are intended to help the other parent cover your child’s basic needs. Your child support order may also include considerations for you son or daughter’s education, medical care, and other expenses. As you make your payments each month—or see them deducted from your paycheck—you may be wondering exactly how long such payments will continue. When is your child no longer a child for the purposes of the laws regarding child support in Illinois?

Age of Majority

Many parents assume that their obligation for child support will end when the child is legally an adult—meaning the child’s 18th birthday. According to Illinois law, this assumption is only partially correct. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) defines a “child” to “include any child under the age of 18 as well as any child under age 19 who is still attending high school.” This means that if your child turns 18 and is still in high school, your order for child support remains in force.

It is important to note that the law also specifies that an order for child support must include the date on which the parent’s obligation ends. If the child is not on track to graduate until after he or she reaches age 18, the date in the order must reflect that presumption. If your child was still in high school when he or she turned 18 but dropped out or otherwise stopped attending school before age 19, you may petition the court to have your order terminated.

Non-Minor Support

Illinois law does include provisions that could result in you being required to pay child support after your child reaches age 18 and is no longer in high school. Divorced parents could be ordered to contribute toward their child’s college expenses in certain situations. It is also possible for the court to order ongoing support for an adult child with disabilities or special needs. These considerations generally require separate proceedings as these types of child support are discretionary rather than mandatory. They are ordered based on each family’s unique circumstances.

Child Support Questions

If you have questions about your child support order or your obligations, contact an experienced Orland Park family law attorney for help. We will assist you in understanding the law and will work with you to ensure that your rights are fully protected. Call 708-518-8200 for a free consultation at Kezy & Associates today.